Even some Hall of Famers looked bad against Goose
COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- Shortly before Danny Ainge found his niche as Larry Bird and Kevin McHale's running mate in Boston, he pursued a rare two-sport double and took a whirl at a Major League Baseball career. But his allergy to fastballs was too much to overcome, and he put away his spikes and glove after hitting .220 in 665 at-bats for the Toronto Blue Jays.Ainge's meager statistical line included two harmless groundouts against Rich "Goose" Gossage, the latest Baseball Hall of Fame inductee. There has to be a neat little anecdote tucked in there somewhere, right?
Sorry. Where Goose is concerned, Ainge blotted out the gory details a long time ago."The only thing I remember about Gossage,'' Ainge said last week, "was that I couldn't hit him.'' If this comes as any consolation, the Boston Celtics' general manager is in some impressive company. The list of hitters who felt overmatched by Gossage in his 22 seasons is long enough to stretch around the block -- not to mention fill a row on the podium during induction day in Cooperstown.
HOFers vs. Gossage
|Rod Carew||.189 (7-37)|
|Robin Yount||.160 (6-37)|
|George Brett||.286 (10-35)|
|Carl Yastrzemski||.375 (12-32)|
|Carlton Fisk||.200 (7-35)|
|Reggie Jackson||.333 (10-30)|
|Eddie Murray||.227 (5-22)|
|Paul Molitor||.357 (5-14)|
|Gary Carter||.188 (3-16)|
|Cal Ripken Jr.||.375 (6-16)|
|Tony Perez||.133 (2-15)|
|Ozzie Smith||.231 (3-13)|
|Harmon Killebrew||.125 (1-8)|
|Brooks Robinson||.111 (1-9)|
|Dave Winfield||.000 (0-10)|
|Billy Williams||.375 (3-8)|
"Well, when Goose came out of the car, it's like he was shot out of a cannon. We'd look at each other and say, 'We've really messed up now.' He had that Fu Manchu, and when he'd throw that first warmup pitch, you'd think, 'He's sure throwing harder than the last guy that was out there.' ''
When you looked
out at Goose, you thought he was going to walk off the mound and beat you up. I never really had that feeling with anybody other than Nolan Ryan.
Even in a day when players were less inclined to fraternize, Gossage carried himself with an air that told opponents to keep their distance. Gossage was so imposing and hyperintense during his tenure with the Padres, the San Diego Chicken mascot was scared to venture anywhere near the home team's bullpen.A few years ago, Yount went golfing with Gossage and a mutual buddy, Bob McClure, and was surprised to find that Gossage was one of the nicest people he's ever met. Through the many years the two players competed against each other, they had barely shared a word. Yount's most memorable at-bat against Gossage came on the final out of Game 2 of the 1981 American League Division Series. Yount hit a popup behind home plate and exhorted the ball to go into the stands, but Yankees catcher Rick Cerone caught it against the screen for the final out. "I'm arguing with umpire that the ball hit the screen, and I turned around and some guy was yelling at me, 'The game is over! Get the hell off the field!' '' Yount said. "It was Goose. And guess what? I got off the field.'' Two and three decades after sending these guys to bed without any supper, Gossage now joins them on the stage in Cooperstown. For all the grief and discomfort he brought them, the consensus is that it's about time. "The day has come,'' Boggs said. "This is a guy whose presence exemplifies what pitchers are all about. If there were more Goose Gossages, there would be fewer hitters in the Hall of Fame.'' Jerry Crasnick covers baseball for ESPN.com. His book "License To Deal" was published by Rodale. Click here to order a copy. Jerry can be reached via e-mail.
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